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Mark Dow Designed to Punish: Immigrant Detention and Deportation IN A PO EM CALLED “ B O T PIPE L ” (BOAT PEOPLE), H A IT IA N FELIX M O RRISEAU Leroy (1912-1998) writes: Nou tap kouri pou Fo Dimanch Nou vin echwe nan Kwom Avni. We were running from Ft. Dimanche We washed ashore on Krome Avenue. Morisseau assum ed his audience would recognize not only the first line’s reference to the notorious prison and torture center in Port-auPrince , but also the nam e o f the US im m igration detention center in Miami w here so m any Haitians and others have ended up. M orriseau w rote these lines in the 1980s. At about th e sam e tim e, Am nesty International sued on behalf of a group of Haitian trade union activ­ ists allegedly tortured at Fort Dimanche; and, in a court battle over the 2,100 H aitian asylum seekers locked up at the Krome Avenue d eten tio n cam p and elsew here, then-A ssociate A ttorney G eneral Rudolph Giuliani claim ed th at there was “no political repression” in Haiti and that dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier had “person­ ally assured him th at Haitians returning hom e from the United States w ere not persecuted” (UPI, 1982). Giuliani also explained, in a panel social research Vol 74 : No 2 : Summer 2007 533 discussion on public television, th at confining the Haitians “is not p u n ish m en t. . . it is detention for the purpose o f adjudicating some­ one’s right to be here. . . . We need an orderly process, and deten­ tion aids the orderly process.” His point seems reasonable enough, taken at face value. But G iuliani w ent further, denying the reality of incarceration. W hen even a top im m igration official adm itted the H aitian asylum seekers w ere “in jail,” Giuliani countered th at w hile the facilities look like jails, they are not jails. He continued: “If [the Haitians] attem pt to leave, they are stopped from leaving.. . . There is usually [a] perim eter security, [but] they are not held behind bars, they are not locked behind bars at n ig h t” (Annenberg, 1984). In fact, the Haitians were held not only at Krome but at the Ft. Allen detention center in Puerto Rico as well as “Federal correction facili­ ties in Kentucky, New York, Texas and W est Virginia” (Jaynes, 1982). On the television panel, federal judge Marvin Shoob was the voice o f com m on sense: “We have people w ho have been incarcerated for three years, and Mr. Giuliani says this is not punishm ent. . . . Cuban detainees have been incarcerated in a m axim um security prison in A tlanta, the toughest prison in the U nited States, and the govern­ m ent says this is not punishm ent.” The semantics m atter. Functionary Giuliani’s lies were integral to detention policy and rem ain so. The Haitians m ust be economic, not political refugees, or else the United States incurs legal obligations to offer them protection (from regimes we have happened to be support­ ing). And although the adm inistration uses detention as a deterrent to other potential asylum seekers, in violation of international refugee norm s—and uses detention m ore generally to coerce a range of nonciti­ zens to drop any legal claims they m ight have and to leave—this cannot be “punishm ent” because, if it were, the detainees would have certain due process rights. M A N Y PEOPLE F IR S T H E A R D A BO U T IM M IG R A T IO N D E T E N T IO N A F TE R S eptem ber 11, 2001. But on Septem ber 10, the Im m igration and N aturalization Service (INS), an agency of the Justice D epartm ent, 534 social research already held about 23,000 detainees in its custody. Since March 2003, the D epartm ent of Hom eland Security’s Bureau of Im m igration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has managed...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-768X
Print ISSN
0037-783X
Pages
pp. 533-546
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-30
Open Access
No
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